Chicken laying: A healthy hen of laying age, with a good balanced diet, will lay a single egg about every 30-36 hours, much of the year.
It’s normal for a hen to temporarily quit laying during her late summer or early fall molt. Some breeds lay significantly fewer eggs during the shortest days of the year throughout the winter months. Production Bred hens are capable of laying through all seasons, but are often “laid out”, making them unable to produce eggs by the end of their second year. Another factor in laying is a hen that gets broody. This is a natural cycle that enables a hen to patiently sit on her clutch of eggs for 21 days, with little food and water. Since she is incubating eggs she generally won’t add new eggs to the clutch.
It’s good to remember the reason for a chicken laying eggs has always been for the purpose of producing baby chicks. We can take the eggs out of the nests, but the basic instincts of many hens regarding their eggs remains very much the same as their wild ancestor, the Red Junglefowl.
Some hens and some breeds of hens are more in touch with their natural instincts than others. They can become aggressive if you approach them on the nest and try to take their eggs.
The beak of a hen cannot harm you, even if she pinches and twists, as I have experienced on occasion. It’s best to allow her to peck you when you want to get eggs from under her.
This will show a chicken laying eggs that you aren’t afraid or put off by her peck and she may decide not to bother pecking in the future.
Some hens will try to find a hidden nesting spot where you may not find her or her eggs. If allowed to free range, she may find a spot that makes her and her eggs available to predators. I like to keep my hens in their yard and coop until laying is done for the day, making egg collecting much easier.
Most egg laying occurs in the morning and early afternoon, before 3 pm. Production bred hens will begin laying earlier in life than Heritage breeds, but Heritage and non-production bred have a much longer life span, possibly 10 years. A chicken laying fewer and fewer eggs each year of her life is to be expected.
To keep a chicken laying, it’s best not to disturb her. Hens will predictably and temporarily cease laying when stressed.
What causes a hen stress:
No rooster is needed for healthy hens of the right age to lay good eggs, but chickens are sensitive to changes in environment.
Egg quality and laying health rely on adequate nutrition, including: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, water, vitamins and minerals. Exercise is important for good muscle tone and ease of laying and sunshine helps general health.
A hen has a limited number of potential eggs and will generally have the best production of eggs in her first two years. It’s common for chicken laying to slow down as hens age and laying difficulties are more common as a hen reaches the end of her laying life.
A hen laying eggs appreciates a nice quiet place where she will not be disturbed. I make it a habit not to bother a hen in the nest, but to come back later to collect any eggs. It seems like the respectful thing to do and I want them to continue to want to use the nests I’ve provided.
Artificial lighting has been used to push production from a chicken laying eggs. Light changes the hormone levels of a chicken and extended hours of light can trick her body into producing eggs more often.
This can be very helpful during the short days of winter and is a common daily practice in egg factories to get the most eggs out of their hens in the least amount of time.
Since eggs are mostly water never let your chickens run out. This may result in laying problems and smaller eggs along with digestive problems.
Chickens drink more in very hot weather and in freezing temperatures frozen water supplies do no good. I retire my chicken waterer in winter and bring a fresh short bucket of water each morning, making sure it doesn’t freeze or run out.
The egg shell is added around the protective lining of the white and yolk near the final stage of production. The oviduct of a chicken laying eggs produces a protective coating over the shell which helps to seal it from moisture escaping and bacteria getting in.
Through the entire process of laying, a hen needs a good Layer Feed that provides most of what she needs. Offering a form of calcium grit is important to make sure hens don’t become deficient and can produce a strong shell coating. If you have a question you would like answered click here.
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